Surging waters enter Brisbane, thousands flee the city

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Natasha Chaku

Melbourne, Jan 12 (PTI) Waters of the swollen Brisbaneriver roared into Australia''s third largest city washing awayhomes, restaurants and cars, forcing thousands, includingIndians to flee their homes.

Surging from weeks of heavy rain, the river breachedits embankment and entered the suburbs as the toll from theweeks of flash floods up to 32 people are believed to havedied in Queensland state since floods swept northeasternAustralia.

The roaring river waters shut down over 3,500commercial establishments in the city and clogged all themajor thoroughfares of the city of over 2 million populationand the state''s treasurer Andrew Fisher estimating the damagesto run upto 13 billion dollars.

But the real big flood flood test, authorities saidwould come within 24 hours when the heavily swollen Brisbaneriver reaches an expected flood peak.

Brisbane almost appeared to be ghost town with roadsand avenues deserted and homes without electricity. Allcommerce and shipping through the Port has been stopped.

The city''s well known Eagle Street pier was completelyunder water as murky water from the drains fill the streets. Adowntown stadium with a seating capacity of more than 50,000appeared like a mini-lake.

More than 20,000 homes are expected to be hit as theflooding reaches its peak early tomorrow morning. City''s mayorCampbell Newman warned that worse was yet to come.

A large number of Indians are believed to have beenaffected by the Queensland flooding. It is believed that over10,000 students are currently enrolled in Central QueenslandUniversity (CQU).

Federation of Indian Students of Australia (FISA)spokesperson Gautam Gupta, in a statement said, "We know thatall Indians in Australia and around the world are concernedwith the tragedy in Queensland caused by recent flooding".

The Queensland mayor Newman said new flood modellingindicated that an estimated 19,700 residential properties and3,500 commercial premises were likely to be flooded in thecity as the Brisbane river burst its banks and inundatedsuburbs, including Jindalee, Toowong and Yeronga.

As the country witnessed the worst flood crisis in acentury, the number of missing people has been scaled down to67 from 90 after many were found during frantic rescueefforts, state Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts said.

"I just want to stress that that number will moveupwards and downwards over the coming days as police getreports and either confirm or otherwise the existence orwhereabouts of individuals," Roberts said. .

Natasha Chaku

Melbourne, Jan 12 (PTI) Waters of the swollen Brisbaneriver roared into Austrlia''s thrid largest city washing awayhomes, restuarants and cars, forcing thousands, inlcudingIndians to flee their homes.

Surging from weeks of heavy rain, the river breachedits embankment and entered the suburbs as the toll from theweeks of flash floods up to 32 people are believed to havedied in Queensland state since floods swept northeasternAustralia.

The roaring river waters shut down over 3,500commercial establishments in the city and clogged all themajor thoroughfares of the city of over 2 million populationand the state''s treasurer Andrew Fisher estimating the damagesto run upto 13 billion dollars.

But the real big flood flood test, authorities saidwould come within 24 hours when the heavily swollen Brisbaneriver reaches an expected flood peak.

Brisbane almost appeared to be ghost town with roadsand avenues deserted and homes without electricity. Allcommerce and shipping through the Port has been stopped.

The city''s well known Eagle Street pier was completelyunder water as murky water from the drains fill the streets. Adowntown stadium with a seating capacity of more than 50,000appeared like a mini-lake.

More than 20,000 homes are expected to be hit as theflooding reaches its peak early tomorrow morning. City''s mayorCampbell Newman warned that worse was yet to come.

A large number of Indians are believed to have beenaffected by the Queensland flooding. It is believed that over10,000 students are currently enrolled in Central QueenslandUniversity (CQU).

Federation of Indian Students of Australia (FISA)spokesperson Gautam Gupta, in a statement said, "We know thatall Indians in Australia and around the world are concernedwith the tragedy in Queensland caused by recent flooding".

The Queensland mayor Newman said new flood modellingindicated that an estimated 19,700 residential properties and3,500 commercial premises were likely to be flooded in thecity as the Brisbane river burst its banks and inundatedsuburbs, including Jindalee, Toowong and Yeronga.

As the country witnessed the worst flood crisis in acentury, the number of missing people has been scaled down to67 from 90 after many were found during frantic rescueefforts, state Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts said.

"I just want to stress that that number will moveupwards and downwards over the coming days as police getreports and either confirm or otherwise the existence orwhereabouts of individuals," Roberts said. .

"So we still do have grave concerns for a significant number of people and search and rescue operations willobviously be continuing in the Lockyer Valley area," he said.

Brisbane residents have been warned complete suburbscould go under, as floodwaters begin to inundate riversidehomes.

Meanwhile a tourism expert said that the current floodcrisis in Australia is said to have currently affecting only asmall area of the Great Barrier Reef than as a whole,

According to ''The Bulletin'' daily here, Mary Caroll,chief executive of Capricorn Tourism and Economic Development,said the floodwaters flowing from the Fitzroy River werecurrently affecting only a small area of the reef compared tothe size of the Great Barrier Reef as a whole.

She said the coral reefs around the Keppel Islands hadexperienced freshwater outflows from the Fitzroy Rivernumerous times.

"Our coast and island operators have suffered enoughdue to lack of access via Rockhampton; the last thing theyneed now is sensationalism about what affects the floods mayor may not have on our magnificent Keppel reefs," Carrollsaid.

"The weather currently on the Capricorn Coast andKeppel Islands is stunning, and, whilst visibility is not atits best currently, our destination is well and truly open forbusiness once the roads, rail and airport reopen intoRockhampton," she added.

She said a team from James Cook University''sAustralian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research wasperforming a water quality monitoring programme in the Fitzroyand Burnett river regions as part of the USD 10.5 million ReefRescue Marine Monitoring Programme.

The team assesses levels of nutrients, sediments,pesticides and salinity as well as overall coral health andsea grass beds.

"The current flood plume situation will continue to bemonitored as part of this," Carroll said.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority generalmanager marine park management Andrew Skeat said that whilefreshwater influxes could be harmful to corals, sea grassesand other marine habitats, some fish species thrived in thecurrent conditions.

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